Looking for a sports bar to watch MSU football? Start with these six
There’s a certain energy in Reno’s East on days when the Michigan State University Spartans play football, says Jessie Stipcak.
Stipcak, who now owns the Abbot Road sports bar, was a student at MSU when she started working there as a waitress in 1996, and the energy of an MSU Football Saturday has been the same every fall since.
A large number of Michigan State fans in a bar means “a lot of energy,” she said. “They are very much alive.”
Therein lies the appeal of local sports bars on MSU game days, depending on who owns or works there.
If you don’t look from inside the Spartan Stadium in the first home game on September 2, the good sports bar offers food, drinks and a good seat in a communal environment.
“It’s all about the vibe,” said Frank Fata, general manager of Frank’s Press Box in Delta Township. “They’re all Spartan fans. Everyone cheers for the same thing.”
With the first MSU football game of the season just days away, here’s a rundown of half a dozen popular sports bars, both in East Lansing and Greater Lansing, to consider when looking for a place to watch.
Buffalo Wild Wings, East Lansing and Delta Township
Business at Buffalo Wild Wings in East Lansing nearly doubles every year from summer to fall, said Tim Thompson, the facility’s general manager.
While much of that is attributed to students returning to MSU’s campus, the rest of the increase in weekly sales is almost certainly due to the return of Spartan football, Thompson said.
The sports bar, at 360 Albert Street, seats up to 275 people and offers game views from 70 televisions. “We’re pretty full,” Thompson said. “It’s a good mix. We have old people coming to town, families coming to watch the game and we have quite a few regulars.”
Just over 9 miles away in Delta Township, the Buffalo Wild Wings at 718 Delta Commerce Drive also draw a game-day crowd.
“When the Spartans play, about half an hour before game time, we start to load up,” said venue general manager Matt Cusick. However, the level of bar attendance usually depends on which MSU team is playing that day.
“We have some teams that we think travel well,” Cusick said, meaning fans from Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin often travel to Grand Lansing for game day. .
“Being supported in all these hotels behind us helps us,” he said. “A lot of people leave games and then come back to this side of town, so we have a good crowd during the game and then a good crowd after the game.
Both Thompson and Cusick said Buffalo Wild Wings’ popularity isn’t just about the wing options on the menu and the more than 30 beers on tap. Every seat in the bar has a football view.
“Wherever you look out of the corner of your eye, you can catch the Spartans,” he said.
Crunchy, East Lansing
There’s never a time when Crunchy’s dozen or so TVs aren’t tuned to some sort of sporting event, owner Mike Krueger said.
“We have football there on Sunday mornings,” he said on Thursday. “We have the Little League World Series playing there today.”
And when there’s a Spartan football game, staff at the bar at 254 W. Grand River Ave. make sure patrons can watch it, he said.
Beyond its proximity to Spartan Stadium less than a mile away, Crunchy’s has a well-established history in East Lansing. Paul Grattarola, whose nickname was Crunchy, opened it 40 years ago in 1982.
The sports bar changed once before Krueger, his wife Jessica and business partner John Mosholder bought it seven years ago, but Crunchy’s is still known for its half-pound Crunchy burger and “bucket of beer”, which is equivalent to 270 ounces of game. -drink of the day.
“We’re kind of in the middle of everything,” Krueger said. “Walking distance to the stadium, good proximity to the neighborhood, great proximity to the campus.”
Frank’s Press Box, Delta Township
Frank’s Press Box is truly a “state bar in Michigan,” Fata said. “We don’t have any Michigan stuff hanging here. It’s the whole state of Michigan.”
The 200+ seat sports bar, located at 7216 W. Saginaw Hwy., is also a family affair. Fata’s father and her father’s two brothers own it. It’s been a bar for over two decades, named after Fata’s grandfather, Frank, who ran a restaurant in the building before that.
“He started it all,” Fata said.
Frank’s is a neighborhood sports bar with “good pizza, good wings, friendly service and plenty of TVs (40, to be exact) to watch the games on,” Fata said.
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Front 43/Cask & Company, Lansing
Neighboring restaurants Cask & Co. and Front 43 Pub have five large projection screens and 36 50-inch televisions. When the Spartans play football, they all tune in, said Kurt Weaver, director of operations for both.
“And we still have audio for MSU games,” he said.
The restaurants, at 3425 E. Saginaw St. in Lansing, share 6,500 square feet and are under the same ownership. There’s 250 seats inside and plenty of aptly named game-day fare, Weaver said.
“You need to have good food, cold beer, TVs and staff,” he said. “We have a Spartan burger and a Spartan roll, which is a sushi roll, and Spartan fries. They’re double-fried fries with beef brisket, bacon, queso cheese, and scallions.”
The restaurants also offer 46 different draft beers.
Nuthouse Sports Grill, Lansing
It was the Lansing Lugnuts’ arrival downtown that inspired the opening of Nuthouse Sports Grill, at 420 E. Michigan Ave., 26 years ago, directly across from what is now Jackson Field.
“We opened the same year as the Lugnuts,” said Tom “Dewey” Bramson, its managing partner, but it’s a popular sports bar for more than baseball games.
There are 21 TVs and seating for around 300 people, and the menu is varied. There are burgers, sandwiches and pizzas, but also a “nice selection of salads,” Bramson said.
“And although it looks like normal bar fare, I think I would compare our food to any other sports bar,” he said.
There are pool tables, foosball tables and darts inside and, Bramson said, Nuthouse staff tune the bar’s TVs to college and pro football games in the fall. .
“We see a lot of regulars, a lot of familiar faces,” he said. “We are very lucky this way.”
East and North of Reno, East Lansing and Lansing
Reno’s East and Reno’s North are tied to MSU and its athletic program in more ways than one.
Starting next month, MSU head football coach Mel Tucker will be in Reno’s East, less than 2 miles from Spartan Stadium at 1310 Abbot Road, taping weekly live radio shows. Head basketball coaches Tom Izzo and Suzy Merchant also broadcast weekly shows there.
Stipcak went to school at MSU and her part-time job as a waitress in Reno’s East led her to become the sports bar owner in 2003. She purchased Reno’s North, at 16460 Old US 27, in 2014 .
On MSU home football game days, Dean Transportation provides transportation between Reno’s East and Spartan Stadium before and after the game.
Both locations are approximately 10,000 square feet, with seating for approximately 350 people and approximately 60 televisions.
“We kind of have two different vibes,” Stipcak said. “We will have an outdoor area with lots of TVs where you can get some air and watch the patio. We also have an indoor viewing area and there are pool tables, video games, darts, lots of fun things to do inside.”
Students, faculty, alumni and local residents mingle on game days, she said.
“What makes it exciting is that our staff are very outgoing, they get really excited about the games, dress up and love interacting with customers.”
Contact Rachel Greco at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ .